Canadian Vending

Features Business Operations
Innovative Insights: Self-Assertive


February 28, 2008
By David Murphy


I was really impressed with the three articles in the December 2007
issue of Canadian Vending magazine by Anne Houlihan, Roger Hall and
Michelle Brisebois.

I was really impressed with the three articles in the December 2007 issue of Canadian Vending magazine by Anne Houlihan, Roger Hall and Michelle Brisebois. They are a must read for any small or large vending foodservice professional because of different options and ideas to improve your business.

I would like to take a small portion of all and expand on one area I feel is very important. Keep in mind I tend to concentrate on the little guy with one to four routes, or $100,000 to $1,000,000 in sales.

Except for concentrated areas like the western oil boom and very large industries, whether you want to admit it or not, the vending foodservice profession is gone and will not be back at least for a few generations.


It has come full circle and will again become a Mom and Pop business out of a small garage. So, for the time being, let’s not hide our head in the sand and pretend. As an industry and operators, we must be self-assertive and improve on what we have.

The vast majority of small vending professionals do not need me or any other consultants, because all we do is borrow your watch to tell you what time it is. I want you to take a long hard look in the mirror and I’m going to suggest some radical changes that will help your family, yourself and your business – in that order.

As a small operator you are probably like me and have been involved in a big way in your community. The best example I can give is myself, Rotary, coached two hockey teams at the same time, served on various local boards, and was the 2000 CAMA trade show chairman.

I enjoyed every minute of my volunteer work. It not only allows us to put something back into the community, but also allows us to interact with our customers in a small community. To borrow the phrase from a popular series of television commercials: it’s priceless.

I get about a dozen phone calls a year asking my advice about locators. My advice is that you are your company’s best locator, manager, problem solver, cost analyst: the list goes on.

I was spending an average of four to six hours per week – in the good times – on community and other work (I once even made the mistake of running for politics. Thank heaven I lost).

I started adding up the expense of four to six hours per week including membership fees, gas, charitable donations: the list goes on and on. The actual amount is hard but simple calculations figured I was spending anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 after-tax dollars on good causes. Pick one donation or association that will benefit you like the CAMA. The rest can wait till we have a turnaround.

Now, with more time to assess the current market situation, I found I was able to combine my routes. I also had a lot more time to research lower costs and pursue new products. You have really freed up a whole day when you think about it.

I no longer participate in some of the organizations, retired from coaching, and left the chamber.

One of the biggest benefits I have seen is that when it comes time to increase prices, I have no problem because I am on the front lines with my customers every day. It provides me the opportunity to explain to them – in a very personal way – why this has to be.

Believe it or not, you will feel a new level of self-worth with all these positive changes, which takes away some of the stress of a sinking profession. Less stress and more self-worth at work (your employees will notice the change) translate into a much happier home environment.

Let’s not forget the $3,000 dollars, which at a five per cent net in your business after wages and expenses, just added the equivalent of $60,000 worth of new business a year. Not bad for just being self-assertive.

Quote from the Book of Motivation: “You must believe that you are the
power of one.”

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